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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"More so than the conflicts in Tunisia, Libya, and Bahrain, and perhaps even more than the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the recent violence in Syria has posed a challenge to the Obama administration's strategy in the Middle East. The conflicting impulses within the administration can be seen in recent statements made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; days ago, she described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a 'reformer'; in London on March 29, she issued a 'strong condemnation of the Syrian government's brutal repression of demonstrators.' Which view of Assad prevails, and how the United States responds to events in Syria, will go a long way toward determining how deeply US.. policy in the Middle East is altered by the recent turmoil there. One of the key departures President Obama made from his predecessor's policy in the Middle East was in his approach toward Syria. Rather than continuing to heap pressure on the Syrian regime, the Obama Administration returned to the policy of engaging Syria practiced by past administrations. The reasons behind this shift were manifold: the pressure policy was perceived as not working and engagement with hostile regimes broadly was seen as holding diplomatic promise." (ForeignPolicy)


"I had a lunch date down at Michael’s with Geraldine Fabrikant of the New York Times. It was Wednesday and for whatever Michael’s was its Wednesday-self. Wall-to-wall. A very eclectic crowd, perfect for reporters like this one and Ms. Fabrikant who can sit for hours and speculate on the who’s and the what’s and the why’s of this aglomeration of celebrity, notoriety, wealth, fame, political power making and mongering, and media madness. For example. Rachel Uchitel, one of the leading ladies in the Other Woman-Tiger Woods marital disaster, was there with Michael Callahan of Vanity Fair. Is there even more dirt to spill or spread (or deny)? Do we care? Moving right along, next door to my table: Julie Macklowe, the hedge fund lady married to the real estate heir, now investing in the fashion industry, with three lovely ladies; Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post family; Harvey Weinstein of the Oscar-winning family with James Dolan, the Cablevision heir ... Roger Ailes, the man who made Fox News lunching with Jon Meacham, former editor of the pre-Tina Brown Newsweek, also biographer of Andrew Jackson and now executive editor of Random House; right next door to them, the legendary Jack Welch; Alexandra Trower and Pamela Van Zandt of Estee Lauder; George Ledes, beauty and fashion publisher. Norman Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank with Paul Goldberger at Michael's. Also Robert Zimmerman, CNN contributor, political commentator and Democratic strategist with Tad Smith, head of Cablevision ..."(NYSocialDiary)



"They say when sexual attraction sets in, all other brain functions shut down. It’s nature’s way of ensuring procreation. My brain shut down last week, and for a Hollywood actress to boot. Of German extraction, Sandra Bullock is not the classic Aryan goddess, but she’s most attractive in the flesh, more so than on the screen. I ran into her at Michael Mailer’s birthday party. He threw the bash in his famous father’s old house in Brooklyn, a wonderful location overlooking New York Harbor, a place that brought back many memories of wild nights with Norman Mailer. Jimmy Toback, screenwriter for Bugsy and the director of Harvey Keitel’s gem of a movie, Fingers—the only American film ever remade as a French movie—has directed some of Michael’s films, so we talked about sons and old movies."(Takimag)


"It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow. Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today." (Joseph Steiglitz)



"Having covered the scene at Michael’s for some time now, I’ve been witness to plenty of Fellini-esque tableaus where the head-spinning mix of stars and strivers, masters of the universe, and alien-like actors never ceases to amuse and occasionally amaze me, but today was off the charts. What started as an afternoon of ramped up power lunches (Harvey Weinstein and James Dolan! RogerAiles and Jon Meacham!) turned into a game of Spot The Tabloid Temptress. I just happened to be at the front desk when regular Henry Schleiff came in followed by a blonde, pillow-lipped gal hiding behind her huge sunglasses. I immediately recognized her as Rachel Uchitel.  What was Tiger Woods‘ infamous mistress doing with Henry? I couldn’t wait to ask him. Before I could, she darted around us, averting my eyes and making her way into the dining room. Turns out she was on her way to meet Vanity Fair’s Michael Callahan. 'Did you see who that was?' I asked Henry. When I told him, he quipped, 'I didn’t recognize her with her clothes on!'" (FishbowlNY)

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